At a ceremony on Hobart’s Constitution Dock on December 31, the divisional winners of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart were awarded. Having finished ninth, Chris Bull’s British Cookson 50 Jazz yacht picked up honours in IRC Division 0, was second in ORCi Division 1 and finished fourth overall under IRC.
“I’d say this was an average one for conditions,” said Bull of this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart. “It had quite a lot of tough upwind, which is what you’d expect of this race and we like that. It enabled us in the first two thirds of the race to pull away from the main rivals of our size and that was better than expected. We had 25-35 knots and we didn’t think that would continue as long.”
The difficult patch for Jazz was subsequently off the east coast of Tasmania where it was all too possible to get caught in a wind hole and crews had to rely on the progress of the boats ahead of them to negotiate a way through. One third of the way down the Tasman coast, Bull admitted they did stop for just over an hour.
In the light conditions, the TP52s got away from Jazz and it was only rounding Tasman Light and entering Storm Bay that the British boat was able to not only reel them in, but to put distance on them. Unfortunately, just when it seemed that they had it in the bag, it went very light coming up the Derwent River.
This allowed Syd Fischer’s TP52 Ragamuffin yacht to close in from astern and ultimately to beat them. “So it happened again,” said Bull with a sigh, having on two previous occasions finished second in the southern hemisphere’s most prestigious yacht race.
Hickman’s hopes scuppered
Up until Thursday (day three), when conditions turned light for the smaller/slower boats, Roger Hickman and his crew on the Farr 43 yacht Wild Rose had been looking favourite to claim the overall IRC handicap prize. However, as progress slowed towards the end of their race, so Stephen Ainsworth’s 63ft Loki yacht moved into the lead, claiming the prize ultimately. “You have to be philosophical,” said Hickman. “I have been privileged to have won two of these races previously.” Wild Rose won in 1993, while Hickman was sailing master on SAP Ausmaid for her handicap victory in 2000.
During the race Hickman said he contemplated super yacht Wild Oats XI taking line honours and Wild Rose (originally Bob Oatley’s first Wild Oats) winning on handicap. Unfortunately it was not to be, in either case.
“It was exciting, a great event,” said Hickman, who this year participated in his 35th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. “This one was special as we got to celebrate the loss of our dear friend Sally Gordon, who sailed with us for 15 Rolex Sydney Hobarts.” Gordon, Hickman’s partner, was lost along with Andrew Short, skipper of the boat she was sailing, during the Sydney to Flinders Islet Race in 2009.
This year Hickman mounted a campaign aboard Wild Rose and had success winning the Lord Howe Island and the Audi Sydney Offshore Newcastle Yacht races. For the Rolex Sydney Hobart Wild Rose was sailed with a crew comprising six men and six women, the youngest 25, the oldest 75. Despite having three first timers on board, there were still 98 Hobart races between the crew.
Sailing his first Rolex Sydney Hobart was British youth singlehanded round the world sailor, Mike Perham, who arrived yesterday aboard Jessica Watson’s Sydney 38 Ella Bacheyacht another Challenge.
“It was fantastic,” said Perham. “It was more than I could have hoped for. And our second place is just amazing for a team that has never done a Hobart race together on a new boat. When you look at the other 38s, that have done five Hobarts before, there was stiff competition. Plus the yachts are all the same, so it comes down to the crew at the end of the day.”
Perham was navigator on board and sent them the right way through the breezy first night and down the New South Wales coast and took the favourable easterly track across the mouth of Bass Strait. Into the final miles, they, like most, parked up, but Perham says that they just kept pushing. Eventually this paid off and they reached the finish in second.
Perham says he is enjoying the transition into a racing sailor. In the build up to the Rolex Sydney Hobart he and the rest of Jessica Watson’s Ella Bache Another Challenge crew spent two and a half months training, including a dry run, sailing their Sydney 38 to Hobart and back. In years to come Perham hopes to compete in the French Figaro circuit.
Long way to come
Following last year’s victory in the Bermuda Race, and a class win this August in the Rolex Fastnet Race, American Rives Potts and the crew of the 1969 classic McCurdy & Rhodes design, Carina yacht didn’t find the cards falling in their favour on this occasion.
“It was probably one of the most challenging races I’ve ever done,” admitted Potts, a veteran America’s Cup and maxi boat sailor. “It was very exciting – we had light airs, heavy airs, windward work, leeward work, challenging currents, beautiful scenery when we got down to Tasmania and a very fine start also. It was a very exciting race.”
However their delivery from the UK didn’t leave them with enough race preparation time prior to the start. In addition, this was the first time Potts had competed in the Rolex Sydney Hobart. “It is most challenging from a weather point of view, navigation, changing gears and I think the weather changed more rapidly than any race I’ve ever seen. From zero wind to 30 knots and back and we had fronts converging on each other, currents coming from different directions – I am still giddy from it. It is a lot of fun.”
Carina is now to be delivered back to the east coast of the USA via Darwin, Bali, Christmas Island and Cape Town, hopefully in time to defend her title in the Newport-Bermuda Race.
With Hobart preparing itself for tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, so Maluka of Kermandie was the last yacht to arrive, finishing at 16:48 local time, after five days, three hours and 48 minutes at sea.
Built in 1932 as a coastal cruiser/fishing boat, the yacht was being sailed by the Langman family, father Sean being a well known Rolex Sydney Hobart competitor. But in stark contrast to Maluka, Langman’s previous yachts have always gunned to be first across the line. Langman was a previous co-owner of this year’s line honours winner, Investec Loyal.
This year Langman senior handed over skippering of the yacht to his 18 year-old son Peter. “I thought I’d show him a race with proper turned down bed and proper meals, although having said that, the upwind stuff was pretty bumpy and rough. In fact I won the seasickness award. I was pretty crook that first night.”
This was Maluka’s third participation in the race and, according to Langman, this year’s event provided several firsts for him – aside from finishing last, on New Year’s Eve, at the start Maluka was called over early and had to return to restart.
Ironically having sailed the slowest yacht in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Langman is shortly to step on to the fastest yacht in Australia, his 60ft trimaran yacht newly acquired from France, to make an attempt on the course record from Sydney to Hobart.